South Africa News

eThekwini Municipality refutes allegations over uMhlanga estuary fish kill

The eThekwini Municipality has rejected allegations that a sewage overflow from the Blackburn sewage pump station was ‘likely’ responsible for the mass fish kill discovered at the mouth of the uMhlanga Estuary last week.

While an investigation has been launched into the mass kill, the City is currently awaiting results from Marine and Estuarine Research, the team appointed to run tests on the water quality to determine the cause of the fish kill.

In a statement last week from chemical giant United Phosphorus Limited (UPL), they suggested their investigations showed a drop in dissolved oxygen in the Ohlanga River. (You can read their full statement here.)

“On Saturday, April 6, an independent environmental expert, in collaboration with a Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) official, investigated an area stretching from upstream of the leased UPL Cornubia site to the Ohlanga River and down to the start of the estuary. Their findings showed 100% dissolved oxygen levels upstream and downstream of the UPL site. However, testing showed a significant drop to 65% dissolved oxygen in the Ohlanga River below Blackburn Village at the bridge, pointing to a factor in that area potentially affecting the river’s health.

“Further investigations revealed that a sewage overflow had occurred from the Blackburn sewage pump station and was the likely cause of low oxygen levels at this point of the river. This, along with the high levels of ammonia typically found in sewage, potentially led to the fish die-off. Workers at the Blackburn sewage pump station confirmed that the overflow occurred between Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, and was a regular occurrence. On Monday (April 8), it came to light that further similar infrastructure failures may have occurred at the Siyaba Node 2 and Waterloo sewage plants,” the company said.

City spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said that allegations made by UPL South Africa that sewage overflow had caused the fish kill are ‘baseless and unfounded’.

“The Ohlange pump station situated below Blackburn Village is currently fully operational and has been for the past three months, post the storm on January 13. The storm had led to flooding, and the station was not operational for two days. While the Waterloo Pump Station has been inoperable for approximately two months, there has been no fish kill.

“This pump station has been largely bypassed by a new trunk sewer that takes the majority of effluent to the Phoenix Wastewater Treatment Works. The Sibiya Node 2 pump station is operational, and allegations by UPL South Africa that this pump station is experiencing infrastructure failures are not true. Therefore, the allegations by UPL South Africa that sewage overflow had caused the fish kill are baseless and unfounded,” she said.

In August last year, more than 100 river fish were discovered in a mass kill on the banks of the uMngeni River near Blue Lagoon.

In other news – Anele Tembe attempted suicide before her death

Months before Anele Tembe allegedly fell to her death after a heated argument with her boyfriend, AKA, real name Kiernan Forbes, she tried to take her own life in a failed suicide bid off another high-rise building, Durban’s Hilton Hotel.

Anele Tembe attempted suicide before her death

The young woman, a qualified chef, was talked off the ledge by police and her cousin, claimed TimesLive. According to AKA, Anele suffered from depression and was suicidal, a claim her father, Moses Tembe, has vehemently refuted. Read More